Monarchs Are Back – 2020

gardening

Last year I penned a post about Monarch Butterflies in our garden. They are back again this year. The caterpillars have eaten almost all of our milkweed plants. Today, I saw one lone caterpillar cleaning up the scraps.

Caterpillar eating milkweed

Even more exciting is that, when I was sweeping the front porch, I spotted a chrysalis on the side of the house. This one being on the opposite side that I spotted one last year. There are also the remains of two chrysalises where I had spotted the one last year.

Remains of chrysalis
Chrysalis

Every day is a little different in the garden. I have to remind myself to be more observant on a daily basis or I could easily miss the little things that blend in so well. As always, Happy Gardening!

Spring 2020 – Our Bluebirds are Parents!

gardening

I’ve been keeping an eye on the bluebird house. If you’ve caught my earlier posts, you will know that we have a bluebird house that attracts families each spring. This spring is no exception. Today, I spotted the cutest little baby bluebird poking it’s head out the hole.

My son loaned me his tri-pod and I set my camera-up and took more than a few baby pictures and videos. I hope you will enjoy looking at a few of my favorite bluebird baby pictures… Happy Spring!

Looking at the Neighborhood Through a Lens

life

I asked my son if he’d like to go on a walk with our cameras. A picture taking adventure. I think what we found in our own neighborhood surprised us both.

We hadn’t gone far when we spotted a woodpecker. Then around the bend and another. Not a big surprise to me. My husband and I had seen three woodpeckers in the same spot when on a walk the other day. I was looking for them. This is obviously their new hangout.

Then a ladybug! I love ladybugs. This was the first one I have seen this season.

Someone was leaving painted rocks around the neighborhood before Easter. My son and I spotted a few interesting ones.

We saw red-tailed hawks flying. A baby hawk was crying in the tree.

We had a nice walk. It took much longer than a normal walk as we were constantly stopping to take photos or point out things of interest. Finally a beautiful, warm, sunny day with no rain in sight. Good to be out in the fresh air ‘stopping to smell the roses’ as the saying goes. The neighborhood looks different when looked at in a new perspective.

A Day at the San Diego Zoo

Travel

The world famous San Diego Zoo is a big place. Be prepared to spend a full day here (and take a nap after leaving) or a couple of shorter days to spread it out. The zoo has made many changes over the years. So, if it’s been a while, now might be a good time to visit the zoo.

The newest change is the additon of the exhibit Africa Rocks. This is now one of my favorite parts of the zoo. Among the highlights in Africa rocks are the African Penguins, Lemurs, Hamadryas Baboons, Meerkats, Black-Headed Weavers, and Bee-Eaters. I really enjoyed being able to go into the aviary and take photos of the beautiful, colorful birds on exhibit.

African Penguins
Aviary – Africa Rocks

There seems always to be informative persons stationed at the orangutan and gorilla exhibits that give interesting facts about the animals and answer any questions guests may have. This makes the viewing of the animals a bit more meaningful and educational. I highly recommend staying a while at these two exhibits in particular to observe the animals for a while.

We were fortunate to visit the Koalas right after they ate and before they were to drift off to sleep. Quite a bonus for us as the Koalas are usually sleeping when we arrive. It was wonderful to see them active for a little while.

Koala

The food at the zoo is EXPENSIVE, however, outside food and drinks can be brought in. I highly recommend packing a lunch and bringing water to drink. There are plenty of places to sit down and enjoy lunch.

If walking gets to be too much, bus tours of the zoo are also available. Shows and animal ambassador talks are also available to see each day. The schedules can be picked up at the entry as they change daily.

For more information on the San Diego Zoo go to there website: https://zoo.sandiegozoo.org/visit

FREE FLIGHT EXOTIC BIRD SANCTUARY

Travel

Free Flight Exotic Bird Sanctuary located in Del Mar, California is a fun place to go to interact with exotic birds. The purpose of this non-profit is to provide a sanctuary for birds and allow them to interact with the public. Some of these birds have out-lived their owners while others have been removed from a less than desirable home environment. Some birds are not adoptable, while others can be adopted to a good home.

The birds are in an outdoor area with a koi pond. Some are on perches, some are in cages. Most can be held and fed. Some of the birds are not as friendly and are not allowed to be held. I was told that most all of the birds can talk to some extent. One says full sentences, one mimics two different rings of a telephone, and my favorite said “hello, pretty bird” and gave a hearty laugh. A couple of the birds were quite old. One was 71 years old.

The volunteers at the sanctuary were very knowledgeable about the birds and I learned some interesting facts about the birds. Not only were the volunteers knowledgeable, some of the other visitors were as well. One woman we talked with goes to Free Flight twice a week and was very familiar with the birds and what they could say.

Looking to get some hands-on experience with birds? Check-out Free Flight Exotic Bird Sanctuary. https://www.freeflightbirds.org

Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden – Balboa Park

Travel

While visiting Balboa Park in San Diego, CA, do not forget to cross the foot bridge to The Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden. The foot bridge allows one to cross over Park Blvd and is located between the Natural History Museum and the nearby fountain. The rose garden is in bloom from March through December. April and May will find the garden in peak season. There are more than 130 varieties to entice rose lovers. This is a great garden to stroll and enjoy the many varieties of roses. Benches and a covered structure for shade also make this garden enjoyable for a leisurely outing. Be sure to bring a camera as the flowers make for beautiful pictures and a splendid backdrop to family portraits as well. The garden has won many awards over the years and is a lovely place to visit while at Balboa Park.

Covered structure

Utility Boxes as Art

life

We’ve all driven around and seen the green utility boxes by the side of the road. Some cities have programs for artists to paint the boxes. They do this to beautify the city but also to help prevent graffiti. Some of these boxes look better than others. But I was awestruck at the latest form of art I spotted on the utility boxes. Photography!

Lee Sie Photography creates photographic designs that are used as wraps for utility boxes. The photos used in the wraps are of nature, or outdoor scenes that would blend in with the surroundings. They can be found throughout San Diego in such places as Solana Beach. I like the look of them compared to that of some of the painted boxes because they have a clean, professional look. The first one I saw, I was like, “wow” that looks like a photograph, which is exactly what it was. Take a look…

Crested Ducks

life

My children and I always enjoyed seeing the same two ducks at the lake. We could spot them a mile away due to the pouf of feathers on top of their heads. Were they just having a bad feather day every day? No, they were born like that. They are what is known as crested ducks.

Crested Duck

In crested ducks, the crested gene is a genetic defect. According to backyardchickens.com, the crest (or what I call the pouf) is actually fatty tissue covering a gap in the skull. Oh my! Breeding crested ducks is considered cruel by many as the chance is greater that the chicks will die in the shell due to this genetic defect. If bred, the chicks have a better chance at survival if one parent does not have the defect.

I never knew this before. Sometimes it is worth the while to look up things one is curious about. It could lead to a new appreciation or understanding of a subject. Defect and all, these crested ducks will always have a place in my heart.

Baby Bluebirds Have Arrived

gardening

It is mid July and we have spotted our first glimpse of our newest baby bluebird. The parents have been nesting for a while so we have been waiting for this day. Now that the day has come we could not be more thrilled!

Baby Bluebird

We have had baby Western Bluebirds (Sialia mexicana) now for the past few years. Ever since my husband made and gifted me a bluebird house, the birds have come to make their nest and raise their babies. Both the male and female bird help to prepare the nest and take care of the young.

Daddy Bluebird
Mommy Bluebird in Action

It is such a treat to watch the activities of this newly formed family. The parents are very attentive to their babies and can be seen flying to and from the nest throughout the day with food for their young. Welcome Bluebird family!

Visiting Joshua Tree

Travel

Somehow, when picturing Joshua Tree National Park, I always thought of one lone Joshua tree. After all, if there were a lot of trees the tree would be plural, right? Oh how wrong I was. Joshua Tree National Park has more than one tree and is a vast desert.

One thing that overtook me about Joshua Tree (roughly 45 miles from Palm Springs, California) was how large it was. It seemed the desert could go on forever. It is actually made up of two deserts coming together to form the park. Below 3000 feet makes up the Colorado Desert or Eastern part of the park. The higher elevation makes up the Mojave Desert where the Joshua trees can be seen.

Skull Rock

When planning a trip to Joshua Tree, keep in mind the temperatures. We took our trip in December, which was a perfect time to go for pleasant hiking. Temperatures are in the 60’s Fahrenheit in December, dipping down cooler at night to somewhere in the 30’s. Spring is the most popular time of year at Joshua Tree due to the desert flowers in bloom. Summer would be the least desirable time to visit as it is a desert and the temperatures can get to over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, which is a bit warm to be hiking.

Joshua Tree has a lot of hiking trails and is a beautiful place to visit. At night the stars are plainly visible without any light pollution. If you want to see the stars at night pack a jacket, as it does get cold at night. There is nowhere to purchase food in the park, so pack a picnic and plenty of water. Be sure to pack a camera to capture this remarkable park. Happy Traveling!